The Development of The American Broadway as Theatre and Culture

The American Broadway Musical has enjoyed success since its inception, gradually coming to be recognized as a truly American contribution to theatre. Success is measured in terms of the length of its run on Broadway. In fact “long runs became the norm for a hit show” (Hischak 2004, 449). Plays such as My Fair Lady 1956, Hello Dolly! 1964, Grease 1972 and Cats 1982 have maintained the record for Broadways longest running musicals (Hanschak 2004, 449). However, Phantom of the Opera enjoyed the longest run of over 8,000 performances between 1987 and 1988 (Hischak 2004, 450).
Typically when a Broadway musical enjoys immense success directors are inclined to transfer the production to the big screen. This is obviously an economic incentive in the sense that movie producers anticipate making money from a film version of a successful and popular Broadway production. In return, the Broadway Musical producers are entitled to royalties from the box office returns and in most cases a token advance payment against future royalties (Vogel 2001, 520). However, a successful Broadway musical does not automatically guarantee that the subsequent film version will be equally successful. For instance, The Phantom of the Opera, while immensely successful on Broadway was a relative flop in the cinema. It has been argued that the box office failure may be attributed to the fact that the film version came too late, having gone into film production some twenty years after its first theatrical debut. By that time the momentum and popularity had faded somewhat (Broadway n.d.).&nbsp.